United Hatters, Cap, and Millinery Workers International Union Records
Language of Materials
The United Hatters Cap and Millinery Workers International Union (UHCMW) was formed in 1934 by the amalgamation of United Hatters of North America (UHNA) and the Cloth Hat, Cap and Millinery Workers International Union (CHCMW). About two thirds of the collection consists of the separate records of these two unions prior to their merger, and of records of joint bodies established in the decade prior to the merger. The materials pertaining to the Danbury Hatters' Case comprise about one fifth of the collection. The remainder consists of records of earlier unionizing efforts among hatters, and of the UHCMW in the decades following the merger, and a set of of primary source research materials and notes compiled by Charles H. Green for his book The Headgear Workers. The collection contains minutes, scrapbooks (financial and membership records), clippings, ephemera, photographs, histories and biographies, and legal documents.
The United Hatters Cap and Millinery Workers International Union (UHCMW) was formed in 1934 by the amalgamation of United Hatters of North America (UHNA) and the Cloth Hat, Cap and Millinery Workers International Union (CHCMW). The United Hatters of North America (UHNA) was established in New York in 1896 as the result of the merger of two Knights of Labor-affiliated unions in the men's hat industry, the the Hat Makers and the Hat Finishers. The Cloth Hat, Cap and Millinery Workers International Union (CHCMW) was established in New York in 1901, as the United Cloth Hat and Cap Makers of North America (superceding the the Cloth Hat and Cap Operators Union), and took its final name (adding Millinery Workers) in 1918. In 1983 the UHCMW joined the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union, which in turn merged in 1995 with the Internional Ladies Garment Workers Union to form UNITE (Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees).
For additional information, see Labor Unions (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1977), pp. 139-144, for historical sketches of the various hatters unions.
Folders are generally arranged chronologically. Series XI has not been arranged by an archivist. The collection is arranged into eleven series:
Series I: Hatters Unions,1853-1896
Series II: United Hatters of North America, 1886-1934
Series III: Cloth Hat, Cap and Millinery Workers International, 1901-1934
Series IV: Jurisdictional Disputes and Amalgamation, 1933-1934
Series V: Joint Union Labor Board, 1920-1932
Series VI: Danbury Hatters Case, 1906-1922
Series VII: United Hattes, Cap and Millinery Workers International, 1934-1954
Series VIII: Charles H. Green Headger Workers Research Collection, 1827-1944
Series IX: Scrapbooks, 1886-1932
Series X: Photographs, 1929-1953
Series XI: Addendum (Unprocessed), 1876-1978
Folders are generally arranged alphabetically.
The records are arranged in ten series:
- I. Hatters Unions (1853-1896)
- II. United Hatters of North America (1886-1934)
- III. Cloth Hat, Cap and Millinery Workers International (1901-1934)
- IV. Jurisdictional Disputes and Amalgamation (1933-1934)
- V. Joint Union Labor Board (1920-1932)
- VI. Danbury Hatters Case (1906-1922)
- VII. United Hattes, Cap and Millinery Workers International (1934-1954)
- VIII. Charles H. Green Headger Workers Research Collection (1827-1944)
- IX. Scrapbooks.
- X. Addendum.
Scope and Content Note
The records of the early hatters unions concentrate on the International Trade Association of Hat Finishers of America, and include the union's convention minutes, officers' reports (which include financial and membership records), and scattered presidential reports on major problems confronting union. (See Series IX: Scrapbooks for the Hat Finishers of North America Executive Board minutes.) There are also minute books for three locals: Brooklyn (1868-1893), Boston (1868-1882), and Newark (1853 1870), as well as list of apprentices in Bethel, Conn. (1860-1892). Other affiliated groups represented by various documents here are: Silk Hat and Fur Finishers' Union, Hat Makers National Union, Wool Hat Finishers Convention proceedings, and the Convention of Hatters to fight convict labor proceedings.
The extensive records of the United Hatters of North America include: convention proceedings, several constitutions of UHNA and locals, financial records (including some strike benefit records), records of union labels issued to employers, records taken from individual applications, and miscellaneous files on such issues as communist activities within the union and relations between United Hatters and Cloth Hatters.
The Cloth Hat, Cap and Millinery Workers International Union national office records include National Executive Board minutes, general Executive Board minutes, and correspondence on jurisdiction. Other files relate the union's stormy relationship with the International Workers of the World, and contain scrapbooks and pamphlets on factional, jurisdictional and racketeering issues. There is also a typescript of a biography of Max Zuckerman. Some of the correspondence here and in the United Hatters section also relates to jurisdictional disputes between the United Hatters and the Cloth flatters, and the latter and the American Federation of Labor. The disputes between the United Hatters and the Cloth Hatters were resolved through amalgamation following a series of conventions in 1933-1934, the records of which comprise one section of this collection. Two additional boxes contain the financial records of the Joint Union Label Board, a cooperative endeavor of the United Hatters and Cloth Hatters.
The large body of material on the Danbury Hatters' Case (Loewe v. Lawlor), in which the Supreme Court first declared secondary boycotts illegal, includes: court transcripts, records of negotiations between the unions and the hat manufacturers, local newspaper clippings, government and employer comment, and records of strike benefits, local unions, and the property holdings of the hatters attached by the court. There are also court transcripts of related cases involving hatters. After 1934 the United Hat, Cap, and Millinery Workers International Union (UHCMW) was the only hatters union in the U.S. Documents found here on the UHCMW include records of union labels issues, and arbitratration proceedings, as well as some records and proceedings relating to the millinery industry codes of the National Recovery Administration under the New Deal. There are also several pamphlets and reports, including "Business Mortality of the Millinery Industry" (1942) by Edward Wagenfeld.
This collection also includes material assembled by Charles H. Green for his 1944 authorized history of hatters' unionism, The Headgear Workers. Of particular interest is material not included in his study that covers technological developments in the industry, its economic history, and trade associations. Addresses and brief histories of the union by union officials, Max Zaritsky and others, are included. There are also documents relating to the conduct of locals, apprenticeship indentures, mortuary benefits, and a handwritten constitution, dated 1827, of a Cincinnati hatters local.
Approximately fifty photographs and seventeen scrapbooks are included in the collection. The first scrapbook contains International Association of Hat Finishers of North America minutes (1836-1893). The rest contain United Hatters of North America materials, including twelve membership books for the various trades, two petty cash registers, a strike benefits book, and a World War I clippings scrapbook.
Conditions Governing Access
Materials are open without restrictions.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright (or related rights to publicity and privacy) for materials in this collection, created by the United Hatters, Cap and Millinery Workers International Union, was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holder.
Published citations should take the following form:
Identification of item, date; United Hatters, Cap, and Millinery Workers International Union Records; TAM 054; box number; folder number;
Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012, New York University Libraries.
Location of Materials
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated by the United Hatters, Cap and Millinery Workers International Union via the union's executive secretary Gerald R. Coleman, 1973. The accession numbers associated with this gift are 1954.001, 1954.003, and NPA 2000.076.
About this Guide
Photographs separated from this collection in 1997 were established as a separate collection, the United Hatters, Cap, and Millinery Workers International Union Photographs (PHOTOS 175). In 2014, the photograph collection was reincorporated into the United Hatters, Cap, and Millinery Workers International Union Records (TAM 054).